Beyond that onion-curry-masala-factory scented public transports during summer that you will complain about in Dubai (summer stretches 8 months long and reaches up to 49°C), there are so much in everyday life to love about this city: the cleanliness, the road discipline, the availability of a wide variety of foods etc. Of course, you still have to be watchful for any speeding vehicle that might surprisingly knock you over, which you should be anywhere in the world, but the lighter traffic, dependable Metro (Dubai’s driverless train), designated bus stops and reliable online and phone transactions just make everyday life more convenient in this part of the globe.
The good portion of my early adulthood was generally spent in Manila until I decided to drag my 30-kilo luggage, fly 8 hours and change time zone 4 years ago. And Oh! I so love the Philippine’s busiest city: the anonymity in the university, the busy streets, movie houses, bars, malls, restaurants that can keep you occupied and awake all night. The chlorine-treated water flowing from the faucet, the honking of the rushing vehicles early in the morning and the availability of just any transportation which are unique in the Philippines, they wake my senses into the fast-paced-mode. While the darker side of it also warrants one his own tale of encounter with hold-upers, pick-pocketers and all kinds of easy-money scheming gangs, individuals even police officers, I still love the race and the rush in the country’s capital.
|borrowed from: httpwww.panoramio.comphoto51474145|
My slice of heaven
But I have my growing up years in the small town in Batangas, somewhere in the southwestern part of the Philippines. Up until spending Christmas holidays requires airplane tickets and management approval, it’s where I spent the holidays and most of my summer breaks. It will always be my home. And from childhood when I used to run around in the streets and during my very limited annual vacation spent, Calatagan will always be my slice of heaven.
Things I love about small towns and some funny things, at least in my time
- Before too many options, everything has just a name – It would be the Ate Linda if you need some finger nail pampering or ingrown toe nail relief. It’s first name basis and not some faceless and nameless Ates from the X salons. Mamay Islaw for some dirty ice cream comfort, Carding for quick shoe and umbrella repair, Pitong or Danica if you want your hair cut or permed… so don’t ever wonder if the girls then looked the same.
- It was in the 80s before the PSPs, easy access to internet and before kids were given liberty to name their pets, the adults have only 4 names for whatever breed: Whity, Blacky, Brownie and Spotty. And every cat in the house is called Muning.
- One destination – growing up, there was only one big grocery store in town and quite a few stall owners at the market you would patronize based on your relationship. So if you say mom went to buy some stuff at ‘Judge’ your nosy neighbor would pick it up where exactly mom was and what time she would be back.
- Everybody is connected, branches of family trees are intertwined. In the 80s, you would know by name and genealogy all the registered voters in the municipality and almost everybody in the Barangay was your relative you almost cannot identify how and you wouldn’t even ask why.
- You’ve been to same school - they have Montessories now which I wouldn’t be able to differentiate, but back in my time, kids in town went to the same school and played in the same playground. Your mom was classmates with your friend’s dad or your sister was classmates with your playmate’s s cousin, etc… and chances are, you have the same set of teachers for Science, English and Arts.
- No-fence walls to guard your treasures. It was so easy to crossover your neighbor’s Bermuda grass and easy for moms to gather their skirts, exchange recipes (if ever they do that for simple Pinakbet) and indulge in the latest gossip.
- I’ve climbed roofs, fell from trees and ran on the streets before 6 (pm). So I have the regular childhood of having skinned my knees and got dirt under my fingernails. While I was not that athletically competitive, I remember by name who my playmates were or better yet, those who never wanted me in their team.
- I have my distinct Batangas accent if not that thick which I can swiftly discard to be better understood, but trust it is back along with vocabularies only us understand when I meet a kababayan, and we all have a good hearty laugh.
Some people label us ‘probinsyano or probinsyana’ with an air of mocking. I wonder why? I didn’t see any difference how we explored life, how we chased dreams or how Science explained the evolution of a butterfly and in my small town I had bigger playground while riding somebody else’s bike, we also have game and watch. And even if there is any difference, I think I wouldn't mind.